“Federal law is very clear on giving the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement the legal responsibility to decide what is in the best interests of a minor in the unaccompanied alien children program and, in this case, her unborn baby”, the HHS Administration for Children and Families told Politico in a statement.
In response to ACLU’s suit, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to defend “the federal government’s refusal to comply with an unlawfully-present minor alien’s request to have an abortion in Texas”, according to a Wednesday news release sent out by his office.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has effectively banned abortions for undocumented pregnant minors who enter the US alone and are detained in federal immigration shelters by requiring “shelters to get its approval before releasing girls for abortion-related services―approval that officials have refused to grant”, Elise Foley explains for the Huffington Post.
“It’s unprecedented, it’s unconstitutional and it’s also unconscionable”, said Brigitte Amiri, the ACLU attorney representing the girl.
“Doe” first filed a lawsuit in Texas state court, asking for an order compelling HHS to take her to get an abortion.
He said if the courts force the government to facilitate the abortion, it will be turning Texas into a “sanctuary state for abortions”.
Chutkan said she was “astounded” by the administration appearing to claim that the girl must carry her pregnancy to term or leave the U.S. She is believed to be 14 and a half weeks pregnant, and Texas law would only allow her to terminate her pregnancy before 20 weeks. “They are effectively holding her hostage”. A federal magistrate judge in California agreed with the ACLU earlier this month but said she could not rule in the case because the girl is detained in South Texas. “This directive explicitly prevents unaccompanied immigrant minors in their care from obtaining abortions by prohibiting all federally funded shelters from taking “‘any action that facilitates’ abortion access to unaccompanied minors in their care without “direction and approval'” from ORR director, Scott Lloyd.
Texas is home to 45 shelters operated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement for unaccompanied immigrant minors, almost half of the 100 facilities the office maintains nationwide.
‘There is no constitutional right for a pregnant minor to illegally cross the United States border and get an elective abortion while in federal custody, ‘ it said.
Paxton continued, “The states have a legitimate and substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life, as well as an interest in promoting respect for human life at all stages in the pregnancy”.
‘The Office of Refugee Resettlement [part of the HHS] is providing excellent care to this young woman and her unborn child and fulfilling our duty to the American people.
Instead, the Department of Health and Human Services has taken them to pregnancy resource centers. The ACLU said the girl did not change her mind after receiving counseling, and scheduled an abortion; however, the shelter where she is staying refused to transport her to the appointment.